TRIBUTES have been paid to a former Queen Anne High School rector and "strong, independent, determined" family man who has died aged 83.

Mike Cook had retired from his post in 1997 and for the past 15 months was cared for at Lister House in Lochore while battling dementia.

Before taking over Queen Anne, the proud father and dedicated teacher had worked at Beath, St Columba's, Buckhaven, and Woodmill high schools in maths departments and in senior positions.

He and his wife, Sheena Cook, 81, had raised four daughters at their home in Lochgelly where they had lived since 1971.

Sheena said: "He was a great husband, a great father and grandfather.

"He was a man who knew where he was going from the time I met him, he was very decisive, he knew what his road was going to be and he was determined that he was going to get there and he got there.

"A lot of people do speak highly of him."

While much of Mike's life was centred around his role as a teacher, family had been the most important thing to the couple, and their daughters, Jane Gray, Elaine McGill, Kate MacEvoy, and Fiona McNeill.

He had also been a longstanding member of Cowdenbeath and District Probus Club and Dunfermline Bridge Club.

Jane said: "He was a man who lived according to his values and his principles, he wasn't a religious man but he was a very good man.

"Everything he did was according to his values, that was very important.

"Family was very important to him."

The family have taken comfort in their close ties in recent days, with fond memories of festive celebrations and huge get-togethers in Mike and Sheena's garden.

Sheena said: "We lived in the same house we are still in, we had four children under five at that time, it's still the family home.

"We brought them up there, people came and went, cousins came and went, the next generation added on.

She continued: "In our family you will always hear us talking about boxing day and the barbecue.

"We had a family barbecue, always in August, and we had sometimes around 40 people in the garden.

"It was all family-minded, Mike was very family-minded."

Another comfort has been Mike's care at Lister House, which Jane says was the "the best possible end of life that he could have had".

Sheena added: "They were absolutely first-class, phenomenal.

"They loved him, they respected him, they cared for him, they bantered with him, they had jokes with him when he was able to be like that.

"It's a great consolation for all of us that he was looked after so well.

"We were in every day, we knew that he was dying in the final week so the girls were taking turns to go down and be with him and one of the girls, Elaine, was with him when he did die.

"It was so helpful for us all."

In April last year Sheena made an appeal in our sister title, the Dunfermline Press, to find the artist of a painting which her husband had chosen as a leaving gift from Queen Anne High on retirement.

It had been on display in her home ever since and was eventually claimed by Cara Shanley, who is behind an art project celebrating Dunfermline and the wider area called Sketching Fife.

Mike passed away on January 27, and tributes have also been paid by friends and colleagues who worked with Mike throughout his time in education.

Ben Conway, former rector at St Columba's, said: "Mike will be remembered by thousands of students and parents in the Dunfermline area.

"I first came across him around 50 year sago when he was a maths teacher.

"Later he was a depute across the road at Woodmill and there was always a strong bond between the schools. "I was always impressed by his steady leadership and his empathetic approach.

"He was always a man who put the needs of his pupils first, he had a great impact on education in West Fife."